The family Talpidae includes the moles, shrew moles, and desmans, all of which are confined to the north of North America and Eurasia. These predominantly burrowing insectivores (29 species in 12 genera) are highly secretive and because of their way of life have, in general, been poorly studied. The species that has, to date, received most attention from naturalists and biologists alike is the European mole (Talpa europaea), whose way of life and behavior are probably quite similar to many of the other species within this family.
Moles are highly specialized for a subterranean, fossorial way of life. Their broad, spade-like forelimbs, which have developed as powerful digging organs, are attached to muscular shoulders and a deep chestbone. The skin on the chest is thicker than elsewhere on the body as this region supports the bulk of the mole’s weight when it digs or sleeps. Behind the enormous shoulders the body is almost cylindrical, tapering slightly to narrow hips with short sturdy hindlimbs (which are not especially adapted for digging), and a short club shaped tail, which is usually carried erect.